Fifth Annual Hudson Valley Songfest and Music Expo

Aspiring songwriters mix with music business pros in educational workshops, panel discussions, and song critiques. Event culminates in special evening concert featuring Ellis Paul, this Saturday, May 22, at Columbia-Greene Community College.

Catskill gives Wal-Mart tax break

This Greenport Wal-Mart is empty since the new larger store opened down the street last year.


Town, Wal-Mart settle dispute
The Daily Mail, 05.05.10

Wal-Mart in Catskill gets break on tax bill
The Daily Freeman, 05.06.10

Catskill is reducing the property tax assessment on the local Wal-Mart $1.67 million, reducing their total to $13.5 million, covering the years 2010 through 2012, effectively granting the giant corporation from Arkansas a large tax break. The Daily Mail first says Catskill is giving Wal-Mart the tax break, “avoiding a costly legal battle.” Then Supervisor Peter Markou reveals a bit more: “We’ve already spent $75,000 in assessment cases,” Markou told The Daily Mail, or said during the meeting. “That’s more than I’ve budgeted for.” Then Colin DeVries, The Daily Mail scribe writes, “The town’s 2010 budget included $40,000 for assessment litigation.” William J. Kemble in The Daily Freeman writes, “the reduction, approved at a Town Board meeting Tuesday, is a step toward settling a grievance by the retail giant. Officials said the settlement, which still requires a judge’s approval, was recommended to avoid further court expenses.” Then he quotes Markou — looks like he said it in the meeting — “This town has already spent $75,000 (since 2008) in assessment cases,” said town Supervisor Peter Markou. “That’s a lot of money. That’s way beyond the budgeted (amount) that I had in there.” Kemble’s story is a day late, but no dollars short. He spent the day following the money:

Town Assessor Nancy McCoy said Wednesday that Wal-Mart paid $530,00 in town, county and school taxes in 2009, and this year is expected to save about $62,000 with the reduced assessment. McCoy said the town has spent $10,100 since January to appraise and defend assessments against five major business. “It’s all ‘big boxes,’” Markou said. “They are all going to challenge their assessments. It’s a good year to do it. The economy is in the crapper.” Besides Wal-Mart, the following companies are also seeking assessment reductions:

• Holcim Cement Co., on U.S. Route 9W, from $10,135,700 to $1,650,00. The case was filed in 2008.

• Home Depot, on state Route 23B, from $8,995,100 to $4,060,000. The case was filed in 2009.

• Lowe’s, on state Route 23A, from $7,099,000 to $3,480,000. The case was filed in 2008.

• Rite Aid, on Route 23A, from $1.8 million to $500,000. The case was filed in 2009.

“You have to pick and choose your battles,” McCoy said. “You do the analysis to see if the assessment is supportable and then weigh the cost of supporting assessment versus the possibility of losing it; what it costs versus what you could save by not going to court and settling.”

Pinetop Perkins comes to town

Blues legend Pinetop Perkins performs on May 1 at 7 p.m. with Hubert Sumlin, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, and Pura Fe’ in the Arts Center Theater at the Hudson campus of Columbia-Greene Community College. Perkins is one of the last great Mississippi bluesmen still performing and has been playing since 1926, with a unique piano style that has influenced three generations of musicians.

IDA denies Kohl’s tax break

From Francesca Olsen in The Register-Star:

The Columbia County Industrial Development Agency unanimously denied a request Tuesday morning from Widewaters Development Corp. on behalf of the Kohl’s department store chain for a 15-year payment in lieu of taxes. Read the entire article at The Register-Star.

Click on WGXC or WGXC Newsroom for more information. Send news, tips, etc. to news@wgxc.org.

Pay raises for Columbia County employees

The Register-Star reports that the Columbia County Board of Supervisors voted for a two percent pay raise for county employees Wednesday night. Supervisors voting “yes” on the pay raise were: Chairman Roy Brown, R-Germantown; Jeffrey Braley, R-Austerlitz; Reggie Crowley, R-Copake; Deputy Chairman Larry Andrews, R-Ghent; Art Baer, R-Hillsdale; Ed Cross, D-Hudson2; William Hallenbeck Jr., R-Hudson3; Deputy Chairman Bart Delaney, R-Hudson5; Pat Grattan, R-Kinderhook; Kevin McDonald, R-Livingston; Leo Pulcher, R-Stockport; and Valerie Bertram, R-Stuyvesant. Voting against: Art Bassin, D-Ancram; Robin Andrews, D-Claverack; Ray Staats, D-Clermont; Minority Leader Jesse DeGroodt, D-Chatham; Lynda Scheer, R-Gallatin; Ed Nabozny, I-Greenport; John Musall, D-Hudson1; William Hughes, D-Hudson4; and Margaret Robertson, D-New Lebanon.

Brown speaks to Register-Star

Francesca Olson holds the Register-Star’s annual interview with the current Board of Supervisors chairman, now Roy Brown R-Germantown. Brown wants Kohl’s to get their PILOT tax break to move into Greenport; is against hiring new workers to handle the increased workload at the Department of Social Services; will not rule out moving DSS to Ockawamick; and does not have enough money budgeted to bring the county courthouse in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Officials stressing One City Centre purchase

Check out that headline in The Register-Star by the usually smarter writer Francesca Olsen. If you read deep down in her story you see why the officials are stressing a future building purchase: they don’t want you to think about the tax increase they just passed. Five paragraphs in Olsen mentions “Local laws renewing an additional half-percent of mortgage tax and an additional $2 per $1,000 of additional transfer tax on real property were also enacted.” Finally, seven paragraphs in, Olsen quotes Rick Rielly, president of the Columbia-Greene Board of Realtors, saying, “These are taxes, any way you look at it.” Olsen doesn’t even dare to say who voted for the tax, only that, “The renewal of taxes passed, with Supervisor John Musall, D-Hudson 1, abstaining, Supervisor William Hughes, D-Hudson 4, voting no on the additional transfer tax, and Supervisor Ed Cross, D-Hudson 2, voting no on the renewal.” Cross voted no on both taxes.

UPDATE:
Here is who voted for the mortgage tax:
Ancram’s Thomas Dias; Canaan’s Richard Keaveney; Chatham’s Jesse DeGroodt; Claverack’s James Keegan; Clermont’s Raymond Staats; Copake’s Reginald Crowley; Gallatin’s Lynda Scheer; Germantown’s Roy Brown; Ghent’s Lawrence Andrews; Greenport’s John Rutkey Sr.; Hillsdale’s Arthur Baer; Hudson’s 4th Ward-William Hughes, 5th Ward -Bart Delaney; Kinderhook’s Douglas McGivney; Livingston’s Philip Williams; New Lebanon’s Margaret Robertson; Stockport’s Leo Pulcher; Stuyvesant’s Valerie Bertram; Taghkanic’s Elizabeth Young. The same group voted for the transfer tax, except for Hudson’s William Hughes, who voted against.